United Auto Workers at Volkswagen Chattanooga factory

UAW expects to be in VW's Tennessee plant by June, report says

The UAW wants to organize workers at VW's Chattanooga plant, shown, to gain a toehold in the U.S. South

Photo credit: Reuters
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FRANKFURT (Reuters) -- UAW President Bob King is convinced the union will be represented in Volkswagen's plant in Chattanooga by June, he told a German newspaper.

A clear majority of employees at the plant wanted to be represented by the UAW and they have signed a declaration of intent to that effect, King told the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung newspaper in an interview.

VW has called for a formal vote by employees.

"We are also working well with the company. VW has been very fair in its dealings with us and wants its employees to have a voice," King said, adding that the union was not putting pressure on employees at the plant to back the union.

The UAW has pushed VW to accept a German-style labor council at the plant in Chattanooga, which would require the involvement of the U.S. union under American labor law.

VW said in September it was in talks with the UAW about establishing such a labor council at the plant, which would be a first for the U.S. union.

The UAW has lost membership over the past three decades because of increasing automation and job cutbacks by General Motors, Ford and Chrysler, The union wants to organize VW workers to gain a toehold in the U.S. South, where foreign automakers have nonunion factories.

Daimler, BMW, Nissan plants


King, who is due to step down from his post as president in June, said his union was working to represent workers at Daimler's and BMW's plants in the southern states of Alabama and South Carolina, as well as at plants of Japanese automaker Nissan, which opposes the union.

The UAW was cooperating with Daimler's works council and German union IG Metall but had yet to persuade management to accept the union.

"I find it surprising that Daimler is not making sure its American management is sticking to global standards," King said. "We also are maintaining contact with BMW, but we are concentrating for the moment on VW, Nissan and Daimler. It is simply a question of resources," he said.

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